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May 30, 2006

BBQ Elves

BBQ ElvesFrom Rancho Oso
Everybody knows the story "The Elves and the Shoemaker (by the Grimm Brothers)", right? Well, we had experienced similar odd thing before. What was the odd thing? We noticed that after using our little BBQ (Baby Q) for dinner, its grease pan became nice and clean by the next morning. It has happened a few of times in the past. Just like the famous old Shoemaker story, somebody did great job and helped us during the night. We had no idea who it was. (Well, obviously not a human, that's for sure) So when we talk about this mysterious Mr. Cleaner, we call them "BBQ Elves" after Shoemaker elves.

BBQ Elves2Today, we could finally meet our BBQ Elves! After a fun and busy Memorial Day Weekend, we were tired and got a slow start in the morning to get back to work, so did Kodiak. He was lying by the door and looking outside. Enjoy being a lazy dog (as he always is). Suddenly he stood up and tried to go out side. What's going on, Kodi? Keath immediately checked outside. Guess what! It was the ground squirrel crawling under BBQ and licking off the grease from the pan! He's not alone. He's generously sharing this "feast" with his friends and family. One by one, the whole neighbor ground squirrels came to our BBQ and licked up the grease to shiny clean. Not like the Grimm story, these BBQ elves are not shy. Not only they didn't mind coming out during daytime, but also they didn't mind us taking pictures. Wow! Thanks BBQ elves. Now, what should we do to show our appreciations? Should we sew scarves in various colors so they will look like "Chip and Dale"? Or should we ignore them for a while to get more cleaning jobs done?

May 26, 2006

Raccoon Attack #4

pow prints The Raccoons are back, and It's my (Miki) fault. Guess what they are trying to get this time? It was an empty bag of Fig Newton I had a coupe days ago. We make sure to keep Geo windows closed while parking here, so 1 empty snack bag (and some napkins with nice cheetos orange smear) shouldn't be a problem, right? We were proven wrong about raccoons' capabilities. This afternoon, when I opened Geo door to get to laundry room, I found napkins (of course with cheetos orange), tissue papers and empty Fig Newton bag. It's been really windy last couple of days, but windows are closed. It's not winds. So it means - The Raccoons again. How they got inside the car? There's one minor fact we forgot. Our Geo has soft top which its back window section's zipper has been ripped and has opening about 4 inches. That was the secret path that raccoons took. 4-inch opening now became 2 foot obvious opening. They must have searched for an opening all over the car. Next thing Keath and I saw was their paw prints all over the roof, spare tire and bumper. I was amazed how sharp their noses are and can detect the tiny scent of an empty snack bag sitting inside closed car. They are really determined and persistent about food. Yosemite bears have some serious competitors here. One more step closer to getting a hard top for Geo.

ripped pow prints

May 22, 2006

Turkey Dance

Turkeys also became more active lately, in the park and along the road. Also Keath discovered the new method to wash car.

Keath, Kodiak and I were heading to Santa Ynez river. Then noticed the birds on the side of the road, one of them looks soooo proud of his display. He was showing off his beautiful display to 2 female turkeys. All other boys were standing about 20 feet away from him and cheering him, doesn't it sound familiar? It really looks like bunch of teenagers try to get attention of girls. Go boys!


At the river, we (especially Keath) enjoyed driving through stream. Thrills! About 5-foot wall of water around the car every time we crossed the river. Just like movie "Twister". I thought Keath is having fun making big splash. Actually, what he was trying to do was - washing down our dirt-covered Geo. Here's one of car wash picture. I hope Keath can give us comment about his new discovery.

Click to watch video

One more picture. Kodiak is preparing for his next big story. Kodiak encountered a ground squirrel!! Kodiak thinks he can catch the little guy. He thinks the target is within his reach (about 15 feet?). Nahhhh. By the time Kodiak starts sprinting, ground squirrel will be 5 holes away and laugh at poor Kodiak sniffing an empty hole. Maybe, we hear another his glorious story some day.


May 20, 2006

Crazy Animals Gone Nuts

The last few weeks have been animal crazy. First Kodiak actually caught a squirrel, then within a week he dug up a gopher. After that he treed a Raccoon on top of the motor, then found the tree house that all the Raccoons family is living in. Now, in Santa Barbara Kodiak almost stepped on two four foot long gopher snakes. Last night late at the spa we watched the raccoons swimming laps in the pool. This morning we discovered raccoons had attacked the Geo glove box.

A week of patience pays off
Miki and I (Keath) pulled into my mom's yard so I could go to work in Las Vegas for a week so Miki and the dog would not be alone. From day one the squirrel family the inhabits the three tall cypress trees against the fence had caught Kodiaks attention. He became obsessed with chasing them along the fence and watching the trees to see if the squirrels will show. After a few days of this the squirrels figured out that the dog can only get so far and they started taunting him. First they would just run back and forth on the fence, then they started running out on the ground to get the dog to chase them. Slowly over the week and a half the squirrels would get bolder and bolder and get even closer and closer to the dog. Finally the last day we were there it happened, the squirrel came running from the under the gate towards the dog and then chirped.... The race was on, the dog and squirrel were both running full speed to get into the tree, then, as they both dove into the cypress it happen.... Kodiak got it by the tail, (small side note here: when catching a small animal you should always get it from the midsection), at that moment the squirrel screeched and came back around and bit Kodiak dead center of the nose. At this point I was able to pull him out of the tree and the squirrel was no place to be seen.

Years of Digging Finally Payoff
After work Mikiko, Kodiak and I (Keath) go for a nice long walk in the park. In Acton we like to walk up to the bridge area by the river, It's full of birds, frogs and lizards. As we were walking around in the river bed, Kodiak swacked at the ground a few times and then started jumping around all over a 2 foot area really really fast. By the time I was able to pull his head up he had a gopher in his mouth. I quick smack up-side his head and the gopher was flying in the air and he was back after it again. I got control of Kody and he started dragging me to the gopher that was now just walking on the ground like nothing had happen. As I'm holding the dog back, the stupid gopher just tries to hide under a small leaf. Mikiko attempted to push him into a hole but the gopher kept running back to objects that were way to small to hide under. This went on for a good 15 mins, finally I guess he woke up and make a run for it for straight back under the dog to a big hole behind us. Just what I we needed after all the medical problems Kodiak has had with his throat, a gopher lodged in his airway.......

Midnight Raccoon Attack
Kodiak goes to bed at 9pm every night, like clockwork. For some reason he woke up and wanted to go outside with a major urgency. I (Keath) figured he needed to go and put his harness on, then opened the door. Kodiak blasted out the door the moment it was slightly cracked, and flew down and under the RV. Mikiko handed me my headlamp and I started to look to see what he was all excited about. It seems he had treed a raccoon up under the rig and it was walking along the transmission. After Mikiko arrived with the camera and flash and the dog wanting to go after it, it kept moving higher and higher till he was on the motor with his tail stuck out between the motor and fan blades. We decided the best move was to go back in the RV and let him come out on his own. I checked half an hour later and he was in fact gone. The next day we noticed a Raccoons paw print on our door about two feet up from the step, I guess the reports of the Raccoons knocking on the doors for food was true.


Found the Raccoons Family
Kodiak & I (Miki) went to his regular morning walk. Instead of heading to river area, we went towards rail track / fence area. Kodiak wanted to keep going more. I was getting tired so decided to turn around. To get sniffing-happy Kodiak's attention, I told him that there's something on a tree closer to our rig. My "oh-my-got-look-at-that" voice always works. He turned around and suddenly started going nuts. Running towards one big tree with a huge hole in the middle. (I assume the tree is hollow). It was mommy raccoon carrying one of her baby and she was just about to go inside the big hole. WOW! Kodiak did find something again! As he gave us so many "false alarms", I didn't expect to see any "living creature" there. He couldn't leave the Raccoons alone. Spent next 15 minutes circling around the tree. Well, good job Kodiak. What's next?

Raccoons doing laps in the pool
At night I (Keath) like to head to the spa and relax in hot water and hang out with other RV people. As I was relaxing and talking to friends two Raccoons showed up in the pool area, they were making lots of noise and wrestling and playing together. One of the Raccoons then went to the steps at the lap pool and slowly got in the water and started playing with the water. After a few minutes of this he started swimming just around the step area, then across the pool to the other side and back. He did a good six laps and checked the leaf trap for treasure before returning to the step area. The Raccoon then got out from the pool and ran over to the other Raccoon and pushed him to start playing, then ran full speed and jumped into the pool with his friend following. The friend Raccoon stopped at the edge of the pool and slowly got into the water. After both Raccoons were swimming about in the pool they started playing and splashing and attempting to dunk each other, this went on for about ten minutes. They both got out of the pool and ran out of the pool area, they went around the outside of the pool area and were playing in the bushes on the other side of the fence near the spa making all kinds of noises. The two Raccoons were even traversing the top of the fence with there feet hanging over the top, about every 5 feet they would stop and pop their heads over to see if we were still there. It was like two kids on way to much sugar in a super hyper rampage.

Snake Walk
In our afternoon walk we were walking along in the tent area when I (Keath) noticed Kodiak was about to step on a big snake, after pulling him hard he finally noticed the snakes and they noticed him. It was actually two gopher snakes about 4 feet in length, one bolted for a bush and the other attempted to hold his ground. Both Gopher snakes were light brown in color and meshed perfectly with the dry grass, dry oak leaves and dirt. I was able to pull Kodiak about 5 feet away from the snake and holding him back took almost all my strength, Mikiko approached the snake to see if she could grab it, she only stopped when I told her it might not be a good idea to play this an already pissed of snake (she has been bitten a few times for attempting to play with animals at the wrong moments, like the Tarantula for instance). As she approached to the snake he made a break for the bush, once safely at the bush it looked straight at us and gave off a very load pissed off hiss and dove into a hole.

Raccoons in the Geo
Hey, raccoons are smarter than you think. I (Miki) needed to do some errands one afternoon. Opened the driver side door of our cute Geo, I noticed there were pieces of ziplock bags and papers on the passenger side floor and Kodiak's poop bag roll was hanging from glove box. I remember I DID lock the box before moving to Oso. ??? Did Keath need to grab something from the box last night? Like. pen? memo? napkins? Then I realized that Kodiak's blue roll was hanging from the back side the glove box!! Well, calm down, Miki. Let's ask Keath if he needed to access the box last night. Answer : NO. Hmmmmm..... Now time to investigate what "they" tried to get. The box is still LOCKED. Mystery? At this point, we knew it must be hungry raccoons raided our Geo. But we don't keep Kodiak's food inside Geo anymore. (There is another midnight raccoon picnic story) Unlock the box, check inside. There we found it! It was Kodiak's cookies in ziplock. We totally forgot about it. How did those hungry guys find this? And they must have spent good hours to dig out the target. (Unfortunately they couldn't get what they want)
FYI, raccoons came back next night and tried again. This time, they weren't sneaky at all. Paw prints all over Geo. Door, seat, dashboard, etc. And so we learned. No food inside the car or keep the roof on.